Hong Kong Beat Presents Billionaire Oldies… On Spotify?

Only two music artists have so far crested the 3 billion+* streams milestone on Spotify, Ed Sheeran and The Weeknd each with one song from 2017 and 2019 respectively – hardly surprising given that these are both artists of the streaming generation – and when you look at the top 100 that have streamed more than 1 billion (out of currently some 300 tracks or so all together), the oldest is from – wait, what? 1975?

At 24th position with over 2 billion streams sits Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, with just one other pre-millennium track in the top 100 at 85 with 1.5 billion streams – Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’. In fact if you look at the full billionaire’s club and apply an admittedly arbitrary ‘pre-millennial filter’ (ie over 30 years old) and rule out obvious festive hits (so, no Wham or Mariah Carey), 20 absolute classics from 1975 up to 1991 sit proudly, with four from Queen (1 shared with David Bowie) and three from AC/DC. In fact Queen songs have been streamed over 17 billion times, more than any other artist from this era.

Obviously, certain songs appearing in social media posts, such the viral TikTok hit of Nathan Apadoca skateboarding to work while drinking Ocean Spray cranberry juice and singing along to Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’ – a great song but a bit of a surprise in a collection of 1 billion+ streamed songs – has had a big impact, as has use of songs in TV shows, ads, movies, and as sports anthems, but what can’t be denied is just how big and timeless these 18 songs are across generations. It’s easy to imagine a preteen rocking out to the stream of ‘Back in Black’, and their father saying something like “look, here’s the original vinyl your granddad gave me, and his concert t-shirt. The sick stains haven’t washed out entirely…”

Truly, the playlist reads like a New Year’s Eve or Hong Kong Rugby 7s South Stand party. Every tune is a belter by itself but, as a collection, almost speaks for a generation, or two. There are some huge artists not represented for sure, such as Prince, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles, and that’s probably because they either withheld permissions, took an aggressive takedown stance, were simply late in making their catalogue available, or just didn’t see the value of streaming as a vehicle – like Mick Fleetwood who is said to have started to come around since seeing the viral impact of just one TikTok video – so I wouldn’t be surprised to see more timeless artists joining the billionaires oldies club before long.

And I hope they do. Not for the sake of the artists themselves – although the thought that there’s probably quite a few people under the age of maybe 40 and definitely under 30 that have never heard of Jimi Hendrix or believe that Adele/Ariana Grande (pick your poison) is the greatest female singer ever, is coldly sobering – but for the sake of the younger generations being able to discover and enjoy great, timeless popular music.

So, with thanks to music producer, guitar coach and YouTube vlogger, Rick Beato – check out his channel on YouTube if you’re at all into music either as a fan or a musician – for collating this list and being inspiration for the blogcast, here are Spotify’s Billionaire Oldies.

*For clarity, we’re talking the ‘short scale’ billion as in 1,000 million or 109.

As the 1 Billion Streaming Club is dynamic, this playlist is accurate as of January 2023.

Hong Kong Beat Raising Awareness About Our Home On Earth Day 2022

Many artists have written songs about how wonderful our planet is, many have written about the dangers it faces from human action and conflicts.

Again this year, Hong Kong Beat presents a collection of songs about our home hoping that these messages will reach out.

Hong Kong Beat’s homage to the humble cowbell

“I’ve got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell!”

In uttering that line during the April 8 2000 epic Saturday Night Live sketch featuring Will Ferrell’s fictional take on the recording of Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”, Christopher Walken set in motion a super-meme that has been used in everything from TV shows and movies, animation films, charity events, to online games. Its use has become so widespread that Walken has bemoaned audiences shouting out “needs more cowbell” during his stage shows, and Ferrell has commented that he thinks it has probably ruined Walken’s life. Blue Oyster Cult also weighed in saying that they loved the skit and it has probably lessened the eerie nature of the original track.

According to Ferrell the skit was inspired when, hearing the cowbell played during the song, he wondered “what kind of life does that person have?”. Despite the widespread popularity of the meme, the song in fact has a very muted use of the instrument that was almost a staple of rock music in the 70s. Even the band members were unhappy with its use, with drummer Albert Bouchard – who, despite contrary claims, was the cowbell player – saying that they thought it sounded “like crap” and, in a similarity to the skit, it was their producer – David Lucas, not the skit’s ‘The Bruce Dickinson’ – who insisted on including it. It was kept in only after heavy modification with tape and being played with a timpani mallet to deaden the sound so it actually sounds more like a wood block than a cowbell. To me that adds to the humour as it parodies the prominent use of the percussion instrument in so many other songs of the time, and since.

So in homage to the SNL skit, the meme and BOC’s genre defining song, Hong Kong Beat offers this set for rockers who have the fever!

RIP Taylor Hawkins, a tribute by Hong Kong Beat

Sadly the World has said farewell to another leading musician at a too early age, Taylor Hawkins of the band Foo Fighters. As the band’s drummer since 1997, Hawkins was more than just the man driving the rhythm, he was as much the spirit and soul of the band as its founder and former Nirvana drummer, Dave Grohl.

Among the post-grunge parody of itself that a lot of rock music had become during the latter half of the 90s, the Foos were one of the handful of bands that stood out and shaped a sound that was both new and fresh as well as a throwback to the hard rockers of the 70s and 80s, Hawkins being a key component to that sound offering backing vocals and of course meaty beaty big and bouncy fills that challenge you to jump out of your seat and kick out the jams.

Always one to acknowledge his influences both in drumming and performance style, he pointed to a handful of drumming greats in various interviews. From 60s icon Ringo Starr to punk and new wave giant Budgie (Pete Clarke), there were many notable influences including Alex Van Halen who he covered at a school concert performing ‘Panama’; the late Neal Peart of Rush who Hawkins acknowledged had ‘provided’ him with some of his favourite ‘borrowed’ beats; Steve Perkins of Jane’s Addiction who, along with the stage intensity of Police’s Stewart Copeland and inventiveness of Phil Collins, had greatly influenced his performance style; and last, but not least, Roger Taylor of Queen who he described as “so visual, the ultimate in cool and collected”. After watching Queen at the age of 10, Hawkins realised that this was exactly what he wanted to do with his life. In one interview he recounted how the Foos were listening to Queen and David Bowie’s ‘Under Pressure’ on the car radio when Dave Grohl just turned around and said with a laugh, “Why are we even trying?“ While the final version of ‘Under Pressure’ was an organic collaboration between the band members and Bowie, it was based on a Roger Taylor composition ‘Feel Like’.

So, as tribute to Taylor Hawkins, Hong Kong Beat offers this collection of tunes by his influences alongside some of his own best.

RIP Taylor Hawkins, you will be missed.

Hong Kong Beat Celebrates St Andrew’s Day with some modern ditties by Scottish lads and lassies

Scottish music isn’t all about wailing bag pipes, reels and hairy folk singers, there’s also a great wealth of pop and rock music by many artists from the country.

Hong Kong Beat would like to help Scots men and women the World over celebrates St Andrews Day 2021 with an hour of contemporary songs from the past 40 years by some of the best artists the country has produced.

Arrr! Talk Like a Pirate! Hong Kong Beat shivers the timbers for International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Avast landlubbers! Gather’round n lissen ee t’tales n’ shanties o derrin do, treasure n mutiny, as ye swig yer ale n’ rum, dreamin’ o’ sailin’ t’riches with Cap’n Morgan or the dreaded Blackbeard.

Started as an in-joke back in 1995, Talk Like a Pirate Day has become an international parody celebration, one that hasn’t been shanghaid by Hallmark, where adherents growl arrr at people they call matey and threaten to keelhaul any scurvy dog who dares to cross them, like pinching their parking space.

There’s a curious romance and escapism about the days of piracy – though the reality of a pirate’s life, fortunes and comeuppance was very different to the dreams of treasure, grog and a wench in every port. It’s like wanting to run away to the circus, but for jack-the-lads (and lasses) with a more adventurous and maybe blacker heart.

One thing everybody knows about life at sea are the shanties that were devised by sailors to help them through their backbreaking work or escape the hardships of life for a while in the tavern, so it’s no surprise that from a wealth of traditional music about life at sea there’s a lot of contemporary music and, given the nature of pirates, much of it adopts the a rakish and rebellious strains of heavy metal and punk.

N be warrrnd. ‘Tis not an Arrr-rated set o’ shanties!

Hong Kong Beat mobile disco Towel Day tribute to Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams was a genius as a writer and as an articulator of human absurdity.

His trilogy of 6 books in the HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy series started out as a BBC radio show, and spawned TV series, stage plays, vinyl releases, a movie, games, comics, and a fan base of tens of millions around the World. His writing gave us catchphrases like ‘Don’t Panic’, popular culture memes and characters, as well as the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything… 42.

He even wrote for Doctor Who and Monty Python, as well as appearing in a Python sketch.

A lover of progressive rock, especially Pink Floyd, he was also an accomplished guitarist and on his 42nd birthday, his friend David Gilmour got him to perform on stage with them, perhaps the only known performance of HHGG band Disaster Area! Adams did release a single in the name of the band as a B side to the HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy TV theme. Adams said that Pink Floyd’s lavish stage productions were the inspiration for Disaster Area – “claimed to be the loudest band in the universe, and in fact the loudest sound of any kind, anywhere. So loud is this band that the audience usually listens from the safe distance of thirty seven miles away in a well-built concrete bunker. Disaster Area’s lavish performances went so far as to crash a space ship into the sun to create a solar flare.

Disaster Area star and keyboardist – Hotblack Desiato – was spending a year dead for tax reasons in the book, no doubt a spoof on many tax exile musicians and actors in UK at the time, including members of Pink Floyd.

Sadly, Adams died from a heart attack aged 49 in 2001, but his legacy has inspired many bands in name and music style,just as he was inspired by bands of his time.

Finally, always know where your towel is.

The First Swing of the Axe – Hong Kong Beat selects favourite iconic rock songs

A single spotlight… A lone guitarist… The opening chord of a classic rock song… The crowd is instantly on its feet in recognition…

So many of the great rock songs start with an iconic guitar opening with nothing else except perhaps a lone cowbell or muted snare to accompany the guitarist, hunched in concentration over his guitar, lit by a sole spotlight… Perhaps it’s a driving riff or maybe just a sustained single note, maybe a big crashing sweep or an intricate pick, or an accident like Lennon’s feedback on I Feel Fine…

We all know our favourites. Instant recognition of the art of the lone axe man… and pure inspiration for the air-guitar heroes 😀

Hong Kong Beat presents just a few of our favourites in this 2 hour salute to the First Swing of the Axe.

Hong Kong Beat tripping with the Summer of Love at Woodstock 50 years on!

1969, The Summer of Love and Woodstock, 50 years on. Wow!

In this blogcast, Hong Kong Beat brings you a selection of tracks from the band set lists, in appearance order, from the three days of music and a dawning of a new age that, even though it wasn’t the biggest, best, or even the first music festival of its kind, it set down a marker in modern history of music and human culture.

At 14, it marked something in my life too, when on 15 August 1969 in UK, a friend of mine said he wanted to hitchhike there and I asked him how he hoped to get there in time and over the ocean. “Don’t be daft” he said, or something similar, “it’s at Woodstock, over near Oxford” (about 20 miles away from where we lived) – so, I learned that some people are dimmer than a burned out light bulb!

While it was all a bit mysterious to me at the time, it sent messages about music and its power to move people, something that struck a note with me as I had just had my first DJing experience a few months before, which led to my first kiss!

Peace out ✌️

Hong Kong Beat wedding and events DJ wishes all a Happy Year of The Dog!

February 2018 marks the start year of the Earth Dog in the Chinese almanac bringing with it masculine energy, an outgoing and fun-loving vibe, and maybe even getting a little reckless…

So what better way to celebrate such a year with Hong Kong Beat than a mix of some heavy rocking and belting tunes about dogs, and well, their canine cousins.

Kung Hei Fat Choy, and wishing all a healthy, prosperous and successful Year of the Dog!